South Asia and Beyond

‘This Is The Time To Reform & Transform, To Prioritise Our Needs, Build Locally’

NEW DELHI: India’s armed forces are on Mission Reform. The effort is being driven by the newly appointed Chief of Defence Staff Gen. Bipin Rawat and the Department of Military Affairs. From restructuring commands to joint logistics and seamless communication, the focus is on making the forces ready for the battlefield of the future.

In this exclusive interview with Nitin Gokhale, Editor in Chief StratNews Global, Gen Rawat covered a wide range of issues including allowing 74% FDI in defence through the automatic route. In his view, this would boost Make in India and also ensure a steady flow of technologies into areas where there is a deficit.

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The new commands including a maritime command will help project power into the Indian Ocean, he said, even as India looks to design and manufacture weapons systems and platforms locally. Given that India’s security concerns are limited, it makes sense for the armed forces to hand-hold local industry to make arms using local technologies, labour and at lower cost.

He acknowledged that the coronavirus will impact the military’s effort to reform and transform since budgets will be constrained. But the military is looking to prioritise its acquisitions and is limiting imports. It is also looking at monetising its land bank, reducing the pension payout by extending the retirement age and tapping India’s defence attaches posted abroad to boost the sale of Indian made military equipment in the countries they are posted in.

Nitin A. Gokhale

Author, thought leader and one of South Asia's leading strategic analysts, Nitin A. Gokhale has forty years of rich and varied experience behind him as a conflict reporter, Editor, author and now a media entrepreneur who owns and curates two important digital platforms, and focusing on national security, strategic affairs and foreign policy matters. At the beginning of his long and distinguished career, Gokhale has lived and reported from India’s North-east for 23 years, writing and analysing various insurgencies in the region, been on the ground at Kargil in the summer of 1999 during the India-Pakistan war, and also brought live reports from Sri Lanka’s Eelam War IV between 2006-2009. Author of over a dozen books on wars, insurgencies and conflicts, Gokhale relocated to Delhi in 2006, was Security and Strategic Affairs Editor at NDTV, a leading Indian broadcaster for nine years, before launching in 2015 his own digital properties. An alumni of the Asia-Pacific Centre for Security Studies in Hawaii, Gokhale now writes, lectures and analyses security and strategic matters in Indo-Pacific and travels regularly to US, Europe, South and South-East Asia to speak at various international seminars and conferences. Gokhale also teaches at India’s Defence Services Staff College (DSSC), the three war colleges, India's National Defence College, College of Defence Management and the intelligence schools of both the R&AW and Intelligence Bureau. He tweets at @nitingokhale


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